Foster Care Training Module
Loss and Grief for Children in Care
By Liz Crowe and Dr Judith Murray
Something to keep in mind

Loss and Grief as a topic can raise
issues for us that we were not aware of.
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If this talk raises emotions and issues
for you, you are not alone
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Grieving is a normal, natural process
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It is really important that we are aware
of our own loss and grief experiences
before we try to work with or help
others
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Something to keep in mind
Loss and grief never completely ‘goes
away’, it is an ongoing journey
 Loss and Grief experiences become a
part of our life story and therefore a
part of who we are
 Our own grief and loss experience will
greatly influence how we deal with
others in their loss

© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Before we get started

Foster care parents do not need to
become specialized loss and grief
'counsellors' for children.
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As Foster care parents you already have
skills and knowledge. The most valuable
resource you have is the relationship
that you have with your foster child

The aim of the workshop is to give you
some tools to recognise and assist
children who are facing loss and grief.
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Session One
LOSS AND CHILDREN
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Definitions of Loss
What is loss?
Loss is produced by an event which is perceived
to be negative by the individuals involved and
results in long-term changes to one’s social
situations, relationships, or thinking.
Miller & Omarzu (1998) (p. 12)
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Definitions of Loss
In other words:

Loss is any situation that happens that
we don’t like or feel comfortable about.
Loss changes the way things were and
forces us to live differently.

Loss is a lot more than death, yet death
is usually the only loss that gets us
attention and sympathy.
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Activity One

So we can start thinking about loss for children in care
I would like people to just raise their hand if they have
ever had any of these experiences.
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Have you ever had to stay at someone else’s house:
• Hated the pillow
• Found the room really smelt differently
• Couldn’t find the toilet in the middle of the night
• Were still really hungry after you just ate
• Hated the food
• Wanted to turn a light on or off but were too
scared to ask?.
This is what a new foster
placement may be like for kids.
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Facts about children and loss

Children feel pain, sorrow and sadness.
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You cannot ‘protect’ children from loss by
simply not talking or reminding them
about the issues or events
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Babies, Children and Young people do
not forget what has been lost no matter
how much time passes. Though their
understanding of the loss will change
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
How will loss affect children?
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The Way the loss affects a child depends on:
What the loss was
• The meaning of the loss for the child
• What is the relationship to the lost object and
what opportunity the child has to replace it
• The Developmental level of the child
• The Individual Personality of the child
• Gender
• The circumstances in which the loss occurred –
was it expected or sudden?
• Adults handling of the situation
•
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
What may affect the sense of loss
of children in care?

The level of trauma attached to the loss
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Depends on the significance of the people they have
been separated from
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Whether the separation is temporary or permanent OR
how great the level of uncertainty around this issue is?
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How well they know the people and place they have
gone, eg. moved in with unknown foster parents vs
relatives or friends
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Previous life experiences
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Support available

How the separation and placement is explained to the
child
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
What do we know about loss and
children?
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Loss is a very personal and intimate experience
for an individual

Only a child can decide what has been a loss
experience for them. Their loss may not be what
adults would expect.

Eg: A child who has been removed from the family
home may be more sad about leaving the cat then their
parents

Eg: A child who has been severely abused by their
family may still want to live in that home and love their
family very much.
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
What do we know about loss?
 Dealing with loss is a very individual and at
times a very lonely experience
Eg. Children in care may find it difficult to relate
to other kids at school, children in care may feel
they can trust no one with their fears and
sadness

Losses rarely happen on their own
Eg. Mummy’s boyfriend hit me and I told my
teacher, now I live somewhere else, go to a
different school and Mummy is so angry at me
she doesn’t talk to me anymore
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
What do we know about loss?

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Children who experience loss remain a child all
the same.
Eg: Children don’t mature, think or become like
adults just because of their experience
Also no matter how obvious is the loss, never forget
the child is still a child with other aspects to who
they are. Try to not lose sight of the child inside
amidst the chaos including the ‘magic’ of the child
and the need for limits
Children are not illogical
Eg: Children try to make sense of what is happening
to them based on past experiences. “Police take
away bad people. If a policeman takes me away
from my family it is because I am a baddie”
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
What do we know about loss?

Loss becomes a part of us from the time we
are born. Our loss history will become a part of
who we are. Children in care are almost ‘trained’
to be guarded about new people and situations,
they may find it hard to trust, attach, connect or
love people as a result.

Children in care face many, ongoing losses.
Children in care face many losses. The long-term
effect of this may be obvious mental health and
behaviour problems
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Loss is a part of life
There are many ‘normal’ losses that all
children may encounter. Children in
care will have to cope with ‘normal’
losses as well as other significant losses
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Losses that any child may face
Developmental losses and changes
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Weaning
Loss of a ‘comforter’, eg. sucking your thumb,
bottle, dummy, lambie
Going from kindy to preschool and then
primary to secondary school
Physical changes, eg. changes in the body at
puberty, getting too big to be picked up
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Losses that any child may face
General losses
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Death of a family member, friend, teacher
Car accidents
Victims of crime – stealing, assault
Loss of a pet – death or runaway
Moving house
Favourite toys get broken or lost
Finding out Santa is not real
Failing school
Being ‘dumped’ by a boy/girlfriend
Being rejected at school
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Session Two
LOSS AND THE CHILD IN CARE
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Activity Two

Break into groups

You have two tasks:
1.Write down what losses you think children
in care have faced.
2.Write down what losses you think foster
care families face when they take a child
into their care.
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
“The foster care child is like a refugee, they
are often travelling away from a situation
of untold trauma, attempting to reestablish their lives in foreign places.”
McIntosh (2003) p16
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Specific Losses for Children in
Care
Loss of being with their Birth Parents
and siblings
 Loss of attachment to a primary carer
 Loss of the ‘perfect’, ‘normal’ family
 Being cut off from grandparents,
cousins etc
 Losing their own home, their own room
and their own ‘things’
 Possible poverty

© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Specific Losses for Children in
Care
Moved away from familiar streets,
neighbourhoods & communities
 Frequently moved into new Daycare/
Kindy / School
 Removed from Friends
 Not being able to have their Pets
 Feel they have no home, no fixed
address
 Loss of educational opportunities

© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Specific Losses for Children in
Care
Loss of participating in extracurricular
activities, or no opportunity to do so
 Fears about the future and leaving the
care of foster care parents and the
Department.
 Little choice or consultation about
decisions for their own lives
 Feelings of no stability, everything is
uncertain from day to day

© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Specific Losses for Children in
Care
Loss of control and power, not only
about what is happening to them but
loss of control over their own behaviour
is common.
 Loss of identity and belonging
 Loss of ‘life story’, what do you tell
people about who you are and where
you live?
 Loss of identity

© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Specific Losses for Children in
Care
Loss of being able to remember all the
places you have lived, no one to recall
when you first walked, lost a tooth or in
who’s house it even happened
 No history, no photos or special
memories, no kept birthday cards or
mementos etc
 Loss of privacy – having everything you
do recorded and discussed by many

© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Specific Losses for Children in
Care
Loss of safety
 Loss of the world they once knew
 Loss of innocence
 Loss of trust
 Loss of hope that relationships and a
home can last for them
 Loss of ‘normal’ childhood and
childhood experiences.
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THIS LIST IS ENDLESS!
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Loss Messages
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Loss has the potential to either cause:
1.GROWTH
or
2.DETERIORATION
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Children can experience growth when they
are able to make sense and work through
loss.
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Children in care may find it difficult to ‘grow’
from loss as they also have so much pain and
fear to deal with and when their environment
is potentially damaging, new or constantly
changing.
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
The Negative Messages of Loss
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What sort of messages do these ongoing
losses give to the child in care?
•
•
•
•
•
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I am no good
Bad things always happen to me because I
am bad
I am not wanted by anyone
Life sucks
If your parents can’t love you who can?
There is no point in going to school because I
will never become anything
If these are the messages kids hear,
we can see what drives their behaviour!
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
The Importance of Positive Messages
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How do we give children positive
messages so they can take these into the
future?
You are important to us
• We are glad you are here and want you to
stay
• We want you to feel safe and secure
• What happens to you matters
•
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We have to be respectful of every child’s
loss experience. We have to remember
that loss can create who children are.
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
The Reality of the Loss
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All foster children grieve what they have
lost no matter how superior the foster
care placement might be.
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After a time foster children may come to
idealise the home and parents (natural
or foster parents) they left behind
simply because of the accumulated
losses that have followed. This may fill
them with anger, longing and regret.
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Loss for
Foster Families
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Loss and Grief for the Foster
Carers
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Foster Parents often ‘carry the grief’ of
everyone involved
•
•
•
•
•
•
The grief of the parents whose child they are
caring for
The grief of the child in their care
Loss of their own family life
Concerns for their own children
Their own grief upon losing a child to
reunification with family or other placement
And the grief of other family members as a
foster child leaves.
Edelstein (2001)
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Loss and Grief for the Foster
Carers
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Loss of Innocence: horrific stories of abuse
Loss of faith in people: all people are not good,
people can hurt and fail to protect children
Loss of time: due to demands of a new child
Loss of knowing what’s happening in their
own lives: foster kids come and go, biological
parents ring, the Dept visits
Loss of own family routine, life, hobbies
Loss of time for their own children
Loss of foster child: when they leave the foster
family
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Loss and Grief for the Foster
Carers
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It can be hard for Foster Families to know
what they have lost when:
Often the relationship with the foster child
who is leaving has been challenging and hard
work
• They feel they are not allowed to be sad
•
•
•
They are so busy still caring for other kids and
a household
Given they still have to worry about the
wellbeing of everyone else in the house.
(Edelstein 2004)
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
What is Grief?
What Does Grief Look Like In
Children And Adolescents?
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
What is Grief?
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Grief is the emotional, physical and
behavioural reaction to loss.
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Emotional: sadness, tears, anger,
helplessness, guilt and despair
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Physical : headaches, appetite changes
or sleep disturbances etc.
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Behavioural: lashing out in anger,
withdrawing into silence and isolation,
taking risks
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Common Grief Reactions
in Children
Important to note there is a wide
variation in children’s reactions!
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Immediate Grief Reactions
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Shock and Disbelief
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Distress and Protest
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Apathy – not sure if they care
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Continue as if nothing has happened
– no obvious reaction
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Grief Reactions following the loss
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Anxiety
Sleep Difficulties
Sadness and
Longing
Anger and Acting
out behaviour
Guilt, blaming self
School Problems/
Refusal
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Physical Complaints
(sick)
Bedwetting
Fear of sleep and
dark
Clinging to Parents
and Family
Vivid Memories
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Less Common Grief Reactions
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Intrusive and Vivid Nightmares
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Regressive Behaviours
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Social Isolation
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Fantasies
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Personality Changes
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Pessimism about the future
Dyregrov (1990)
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Loss, Grief and Children
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One of the biggest barriers for children and
young people experiencing loss and grief is
they may not have the language skills and
words to tell us how they feel
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Children may not have the emotional
knowledge or experience to tie their feelings
to words and behaviours.
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Children are limited by their life experiences
and their maturity in how they interpret
what is happening
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Grieving is a normal, natural
process
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Important to remember that grief is a normal
and natural reaction to a loss
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Going through grief helps anyone move from a
state of significant disorganisation to a
position of being able to move on with life
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Children cope with grief differently to adults
particularly in terms of self protection and
their need to protect others
(Baker, Sedney & Gross, 1992)
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Grief Theories
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Grieving then is this process of healing that can take time.
We all know the experience intimately and many theorists
have tried to put together models to explain it. Hence there
have been many theories of grief and loss. Each tells a little
more of the story of grief but none is definitive- there is no
one theory of grief. Rather, by taking them together we
start to piece together the complex human experience that
each of us knows so intimately because we have lived it.
Many of us have heard of the grief theorist Kubler-Ross with
her belief that grief happens in STAGES
1. Denial and Isolation
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Grief Theories

While Kubler Ross had some good ideas we
now know that:
Grief does not happen in clear, cut stages. It
may come and go during our life
• Grief and Loss becomes a part of who we are
and our life story
• Grief and Loss impacts our development, our
relationships and how we look at the world.
Only looking at ‘stages’ of grief stops us from
seeing how a child’s life experiences, their
personality and the environment in which they live
is affecting them.
•
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© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
How can we tell if a child is
grieving?
What to look for:
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Children’s behaviour and actions may be the best
clues to tell us how a child is feeling.
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We need to look for changes in the child’s total
behaviour rather than a change in a single
behaviour
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Remember that the intensity of outward behaviour
is not always a true sign as to the trouble going
on inside.
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
How can we tell if a child is
grieving?
What to look for:
The same behaviours may just be part of ‘normal’
development and have nothing to do with the loss
 The behaviours may not be that different to what
the child is normally like so it may be easy to miss
the distress
 Grief reactions for children can come and go. This
is normal and not a measure of grief. Just
because there is no signs of grief does not mean
they are not grieving
 Children may not know what they need or what is
wrong so they cannot ask for help

© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Trauma, Loss and Grief – an
important connection
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Many children in care have suffered trauma.
Physical and sexual abuse is seen as a serious
emotional trauma.
Babies and children can experience trauma
even if they cannot talk
Trauma makes children more vulnerable to
psychiatric disorders
Trauma causes FEAR
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Trauma, Loss and Grief – an
important connection
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Many children in care are scared as well as sad
Children can often re-experience trauma. This
is out of their control and is called a
‘flashback’
When children have ‘flashbacks’ their brains
become very active and they are physically
unable to speak. It becomes a “speechless
terror”
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Trauma, Loss and Grief – an
important connection
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Babies, children and young people often find it
hard to tell us what has happened after a
‘flashback’
Re-traumatisation can present as outbursts of
anger, temper, irritability, poor concentration,
being ‘out of control’, or as withdrawal,
isolation, silence etc.
Children coping with trauma may have no
energy for anybody or anything else
Trauma can stop a child from being able to
grieve their losses and move on in life.
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Session Three
Children and Development
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Importance of Child Development
and Loss
Children of different developmental
stages or ages understand loss in very
different ways.
 Its more important to understand a
child’s developmental stage than how
old they actually are
 Loss must be explained to suit the
cognitive (thinking) and emotional
development of the child
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© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
BABIES: Development and loss
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Babies learn security, love and trust by having
a consistent person caring for them.
‘Attachment’ is very important to a child’s
overall development
No concept of time
Mainly affected if the person/people they are
‘attached’ to is not there
Are affected by their ‘attached’ person’s
availability and mood
There can be major problems for babies and
children if there has never been anyone one
person to attach too
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
TODDLERS AND PRESCHOOLERS:
Loss and Development
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Little understanding of the permanence of loss
Can’t understand the difference between fact and fantasy
Separation, anxiety and fears are common
Not able to think logically so may become confused
about the facts
‘Magical’ thinkers
Think everything is about themselves – blame and
wonder
Often very curious about the facts
A lack of understanding about the loss may result in a
lack of reaction to the loss
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
EARLY SCHOOL AGE CHILDREN:
Loss and Development
Children beginning to understand the
consequences of loss
 Start to understand how other people are affected
by loss
 May use play to try and work out what has
happened
 At this age, friends are becoming important.
Isolation from friends after loss is common at this
age and difficult for children to cope with (another
loss)
 Children of this age can begin to plan and develop
more coping strategies.

© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
LATE SCHOOL AGE/ADOLESCENCE:
Development and Loss
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Starting to have a more mature understanding of
loss
The need to deal with loss may be complicated by
‘normal crises’ of adolescence, eg. boyfriends,
school
Peer support is important but not always available
May deal with their sense of helplessness by
engaging in ‘risky’ behaviour, eg. drinking, drugs,
putting themselves at danger with cars,
skateboards, etc
Adolescents can be very judgmental
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
LATE SCHOOL AGE/ADOLESCENCE:
Development and Loss
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Shame can be an important part in the loss of
adolescents, no young person wants to be
seen as ‘different’ in any way to their peers.
The difficulty with adolescence is that the more
intense the emotions for a young person, the
more he or she may try to repress or hide
them.
Adolescents deal with a lot of issues by
withdrawing, being alone in their room,
listening to music – loss and trauma can
escalate this behaviour.
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
The Journey of Loss and Grief for
a Child
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As children reach new developmental stages they
may experience the loss differently and need to reexplore the loss and the associated issues

Eg: A child is taken into care aged 4
•
At 4 yrs they are initially upset and then settle well
into foster care
•
At 9yrs they may feel alone, different and frightened
by not ‘belonging’ to a ‘permanent family’
•
At 14yrs they may be angry at their parents for their
neglect and angry at the Dept for their decision
making
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Activity Three

Four children have been removed from
a home for physical abuse. They are all
different ages :
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9 months, four yrs, 10yrs and 15 years?
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What differences could we expect to see
in their behaviour in relation to grief
and loss?
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Session Four
How can we care for children
who have faced loss and grief?
Ideas and examples of how Foster
Care Parents can assist children
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Loss threatens our sense of safety,
mastery and control
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Children can feel totally out of control,
angry and resentful when they feel
unsafe and unheard
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Children in care need to feel safe and
have some level of control over their
lives eg information.
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Security and trust are two of the
greatest gifts for children in care.
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Things to remember when talking
with children:
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Talk to children in a direct, clear, honest, gentle
and soothing way
Children need to be informed of things that are
happening to them and their family
Use appropriate language
Always prepare children for events
The honest facts stop children from feeling guilt
and responsibility
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Things to remember when talking
with children:
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Children are very honest and many react from
an unconscious level
Children are not easily ‘fooled’
Children do not need perfection just honesty
and respect
Assure children that their feelings around grief,
loss and trauma are normal and ok, though
they may be frightening.
Adults need to support and care for children as
their peers and friends will be developmentally
unable to do so.
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Case Study One
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Nick is eleven and his sister is Suzette is nine.
They have been placed with us as a ‘favour’ to the
Dept who can not get any other foster family to
take them. The kids know that if they blow this
placement they will have to be separated which
they don’t want. We have done everything to
make them feel welcomed and loved. Yet Nick
remains aggressive, nasty and unpredictable.
Suzette’s behaviour is very good but she is very
‘cold’ and distant to us rarely speaking. What is
this about?
What are the losses? What is development?
Discuss
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Why do foster kids often try to
wreck their own placements?
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Often the damage has been so great for kids that by the time
they reach ‘good’ care it is years before they can make use of
it.
(McIntosh 2003)
Research shows that before children ‘attach’ to their carers
they tend to misinterpret most actions as rejection, or not
being wanted or cared for
(McIntosh 2003)
Kids can be in trauma at home so they come into care, the
trauma is untreated, with each new move the trauma is
reactivated almost guaranteeing the failure of the new
placement
(Kenrick 2000)
Children have developed strategies for surviving under
desperate conditions. As a result some infants/children come
to foster care not knowing how to initiate or respond to
sensitive care
(Stovall & Dozier 1998)
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Why do kids in care seem to try and
wreck relationships and placements?
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A profound lack of trust and need to control others in the
only way they know how
(Schofield and Beek 2005)
Kids can be resistant to learning new experiences of loving
and secure caregiving after so much loss and trauma
(Schofield and Beek 2005)
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They find it hard to understand and see that the foster home
is different from their reality so they reject the foster family
(Schofield and Beek 2005)


Children in care may see their role in a new family as the
need to be good so the placement goes well. Suzette may
have been taught that to be good you must be absent
There are also several developmental issues here.
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Case Study Two

We were always just a temporary placement
for Andrew aged 8 while the Dept looked for
someone who could have him more long term.
We all knew this, including Andrew. We have
really enjoyed having him and the placement
has gone really, really well. However, now
that the time for him to leave is getting closer
he has become aggressive and nasty.

What are the losses for Andrew?
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Why do children react badly even when
they know something is going to happen?

When children are going to be removed a means of
‘protecting’ themselves is to see their new home as
‘perfect’ and everything they will be leaving behind as
“awful”, “horrible”, “useless” and “a pleasure to get
away from” this includes much loved foster parents
(Kenrick 2000)
Sometimes children reject before they can be rejected.
 This is another move and loss in a series of losses for
Andrew. The collective losses for children in care can
be too much to bear.
 Children use the only control open to them – ignoring
people, control of bodily functions and through a
variety of challenging behaviours
(O’Neil 2004)

© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Case Study Three

Annie is six years old and has been with
her foster family for 10 months.

Annie is normally pretty happy. Her foster
family has been finding it difficult to send
her on visits with her biological family
because when she comes back she is angry
and lashes out over the littlest things.

What could be going on for Annie? What
are the losses?
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Issues around family contact



Children’s relationships with their natural
parents is often complicated
Despite years of abuse and neglect most
children express a need to maintain contact
with their biological parents, particularly their
mothers
(O’Neill 2004)
Children are taught from healthy relationships
with their parents on how to ‘reflect’ or think
things through. Many kids in care do not have
this skill
(Kenrick 2000)
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Issues for Annie when visiting her
natural parents:








Family are not particularly interested in her – further
loss and rejection
Concerns that the visit will affect the foster care
relationship
Embarrassed by natural family (O’Neil 2004)
Family threatening to take the child back which Annie
may find confusing, frightening or get hopeful about
Feeling that she has no real safe family or place she
belongs
Two sets of rules and expectations, etc
Natural family may further abuse or neglect
Foster family may not support visits
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Children in care need:






Someone who will listen to them
Someone who is consistently available to them,
whenever they need it
Someone who will talk about the difficulties they
have had or are still experiencing
Someone who will share the emotion with them
Someone who will think of them in their absence Knowing someone is constantly thinking of them
makes children feel less alone both in themselves
and against the world
Someone who is consistently caring by being
physically present and emotionally available
(Kenrick 2000)
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
How can I help my child in care
live with their losses?
By providing an environment of:
 Trust – by being reliable and available




Sensitivity – picking up on their needs, listening
Stability – being consistently in their lives, by
setting consistent boundaries
Security – letting them know you are there longterm
Family membership – inviting them into family
rituals and celebrations, including the extended
family (Schofield and Beek 2005)
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
Five Messages that build resilience
in children

I Can

I Am

I Am Safe

I Matter

I Belong (Murray 2004 p11)

Children can survive well the journey
of fostering. Never, ever devalue what
you do for these children!
© Dr Judith Murray and Liz Crowe, The University of Queensland
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Loss and Grief for Children in Care